Early in Betty Blue, aspiring novelist Zorg (Jean-Hugues Anglade) declares, "She was like a flower with translucent antennae and a mauve plastic heart" in so solemn a tone that it practically dares the viewer to laugh. And so it goes throughout this divisively fleshy 1986 opus. Betty (Béatrice Dalle), who we first see boinking Zorg beneath Mona Lisa's portrait, is less a character than a compendium of male fantasies wrapped in a whole lot of crazy. The movie asks, "How long will amazing sex with the hottest woman ever make a dude ignore her screaming need for institutionalization?" — and after Betty burns down their house and Zorg still sticks around, the reason that director Jean-Jacques Beineix's cut clocks in at 185 minutes becomes abundantly clear. Despite its langour, however, the film is never dull, and the contrast between idyllic (and often full-frontal) romantic interludes with scenes of batshit lunacy can be amusing as long as they're not taken too seriously. Betty Blue doesn't say much profound about men and women — but the film says it in a stylishly mad way.
Meet Betty at 7 p.m. Friday, August 21, at Starz FilmCenter in the Tivoli; tickets are $6 to $9.50. For future showtimes and more info, phone 303-595-3456 or visit www.denverfilm.org.